Updated: 19-Jan-2007 NATO - 13 December 1956



The Committee of Three

Title: Committee of Three
Date: 1956
Date of description:17 08 2005
Level of description: Series

Administrative history

The chronological series under the reference CT contains the documents of the Committee of Three on Non-Military Cooperation, also known as the Three Wise Men.
Set up by the Council on 5 May 1956 (see C-R(56)23) in order to "advise the Council on ways and means to improve and extend NATO cooperation in non-military fields and to develop greater unity within the Atlantic Community", the Committee comprised three ministers – Mr Halvard Lange, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Gaetano Martino, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs. The International Staff provided support for the preparation of their documents and administrative matters.
A Committee of Deputies was also established, composed of the Canadian, Italian and Norwegian Permanent Representatives. The chairmanship of the Committee of Deputies was to devolve on the Secretary General or the Deputy Secretary General.
The Committee of Three first met from 20 to 22 June 1956 at NATO Headquarters in Paris. It immediately sent out a questionnaire to the NATO nations to establish a basis for the discussion. The questionnaire plan was as follows:

  1. Political questions
  2. Economic questions
  3. Cultural questions
  4. Questions concerning information
  5. Organization and functions

The Committee met again in Paris in September 1956 to consider and analyse the answers to the questionnaire. They also surveyed the development of NATO and other international organizations, NATO's achievements up to that point in the military field, and the political and economic questions which had been dealt with in the past.
On the basis of these consultations a draft report to the Council was prepared. A final meeting in New York in November 1956 allowed the Committee to revise the document.
The report, which in particular recommended the establishment of committees of political and economic advisers under the Council, was reviewed and approved by the Council in ministerial session on 13 December 1956. With its mission accomplished, the Committee of Three then disbanded.

Custodial history
The series of chronological documents issued by the Committee of Three was initially established and kept on paper. Afterwards the documents were microfilmed, then digitized, and the original papers were destroyed.

Committee of Three

Language of documents:
The documents were published in the two official languages of NATO, English and French.

Scope and content
The documents of the chronological series with the reference CT deal with the situation of NATO and the Organization's past achievements in the political, economic and military fields. A questionnaire was circulated among the member nations. Consultations were then held with the nations to clarify the written responses. Records of these consultations are available (see CT-R/3 to CT-R/14). At the same time as the questionnaire explanatory notes serving as a guide for replies were drawn up, as well as the plan for implementing and analysing the questionnaire. Draft reports (see CT-WP/2, CT-WP/4 and CT-WP/7) preceded the final report presented to the Council in December 1956 and published in January 1957 (see C-M(56)127(Revised)). Finally, the CT series also includes reports on "unofficial" meetings of the Committee intended to prepare its work. These reports have no reference.

Conditions of access:

This series of documents has been declassified and released for public disclosure.

Arrangement note

The documents are arranged by type – Document (D), Note (N), and Meeting Record (R), and then by number.

Accruals: No additions are anticipated.
Extent: 2 microfilms, 41.3 Mb


Full report (PDF/ 46MB)

Report by chapter:


Note: We apologise for any mistake which may have occurred during the electronic capture of the text.

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